CHICAGO – It didn’t take long for Chase Claypool to make his presence felt in the Bears offense.
The newest member of the team showcased his versatility in the 35-32 loss against the Dolphins at Soldier Field.
With the Bears facing a third-and-2 on the opening possession of the game, Claypool lined up one-on-one against Dolphins defensive back Keion Crossen. The 6-foot-4, 238-pound receiver ran a vertical route down the left sideline and had a step on the 5-foot-10, 195-pound corner.
Crossen held Claypool’s right hand as he extended to make a diving catch, drawing a 28-yard pass interference play.
The offense didn’t gain any additional yards on that drive and had to settle for a field goal. Still, Claypool created an obvious mismatch and Justin Fields exploited it by giving his new receiver a chance.
“Yeah, I think he did a great job this week, studying and preparing for the game,” Fields said. “For the plays that he was in, he did the right thing. I think the more reps he gets, the more comfortable he’s going to get with the offense, and of course the more details he’ll be with each and every route.”
Claypool landed in Chicago just four days ago and has barely had time to learn his teammates names let alone the playbook, but still he was able to put himself in a position to execute the plays he has learned in this complex offense.
“It was a whirlwind for sure,” Claypool said about this past week. “You know, trying to catch up. Early mornings, late nights, studying the playbook, six to seven hours a day trying to get all the information down. It’s a cool experience to have, you know, a team want you like that and be excited for you to get involved.”
One way offensive coordinator Luke Getsy implemented Claypool in the offense was on screen plays. The first one that was called for the former second-round draft pick was dropped on a first-and-10 on the Bears’ second offensive possession.
Immediately after, though, Getsy called another play for Claypool. Isolated alone to the left, Fields zipped a pass to Claypool and he made Crossen miss in the open field and picked up 12 yards on the play.
“I think that’s a good feeling when something doesn’t go your way and then they come right back to you and then you make a play,” Claypool said. “I thought I owed it to the team to do that, but I’m appreciative of that.”
Claypool also mentioned it was “really cool” just being on the receiving end of a screen play since he didn’t get many opportunities to do so in Pittsburgh. The third-year player ended the game with two receptions for 13 yards on six targets. He also carried the ball on an end around for four yards late in the third quarter.
And Claypool, along with Fields, believed he drew another pass interference penalty with 1:35 remaining in the game. Against Crossen, Claypool had a step on a vertical route. Fields threw in his direction, but the ball fell incomplete.
“I wasn’t sure during the play but after I saw it on the billboard, it was definitely PI for sure,” Fields said. “Just missed it. Can’t do anything about it. Just got to move on to the next play.”
Despite the small sample size in Claypool’s debut, the offense has a new versatile weapon for Fields, and that will only add to what the Bears’ passing attack can do for the remaining eight games of the regular season.